I recently wrote about the storm here on Lake Michigan, and the challenges that resulted. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes that have occurred in the lives of others, and the subsequent adjustments they have had to make.
Someone I know has walked with her spouse through serious heart surgery, and though the outcome has been positive, it was a journey of fear and pain.
A couple has been separated by death, leaving an emptiness, a loneliness, a feeling of isolation.
I have a dear friend who has mobility and heart issues. There are times she simply can’t keep her legs under her and has to resort to using a wheelchair.
Families are facing a new school year with many unknowns. Who will be exposed to the Delta variant and bring it home to parents and grandparents? How will teachers cope with another year of limitations on social interaction?
The people of New Orleans have suffered a serious hurricane with all its consequences – loss of homes, loss of power, loss of life. And meanwhile the people of New York have experienced flooding of a magnitude previously unknown.
A friend recently sold her vacation home in Ludington, and now will only return to visit friends and not to stay. I feel the loss of a dear soul friend.
These events and changes in our life circumstances can feel overwhelming. And yet, how often do we pretend that everything is alright and stoically put forth a brave face? True resilience does not require a brave face.
On the contrary, a Mayo Clinic web posting defines resilience as “the ability to adapt to difficult situations. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you’re able to keep functioning, both physically and psychologically (and, I would add, spiritually). Resilience won’t make your problems go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress. Being able to reach out to others for support is a key part of being resilient.”
So, to whom does a person of faith reach out for support in becoming resilient. I believe resilience comes from keeping our eyes on the Lord. And the words of Scripture encourage us.
In James 1:2-4, it says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” And Romans 5: 3-5 reinforces that message: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
In other words, perseverance (resilience) may be born of suffering, but God’s love is poured into us, helping us to overcome, holding us together and lifting us up, giving us hope.
In the old song “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” this hope is clear:
What have I to dread, what have I to fear?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Safe and secure from all alarms,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
And God speaks directly to us in the words of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation”:
Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.
How blessed we are to have a loving heavenly Father who carries us through the things we dread, the things we fear, the things we suffer, and provides for us all that we need as we lean, safe and secure, on his loving arms, upheld by his all-powerful hand. In God’s grace, despite circumstances that threaten to overpower us, we find comfort and peace in his strength.
And so, we pray, “God, sometimes we see so much suffering around us or experience grief and loss in our own lives. Sometimes our lives change in ways that may seem difficult to bear and we are forced to adapt and find new hope. We are so very grateful that you are with us in your love and grace, and that your powerful arms hold us and provide safety and security to meet our needs. Give us true resilience through your strength, and continue to carry us as we trust in your great faithfulness.